The other day, I walked into an ice cream parlor for a cone. When I learned I had to pay with a credit card, I walked out. I’ve seen many people pay for coffee with a card. I admire their savvy. But I manage my finances best when I watch the money flow from my wallet rather than wait to be surprised at the end of the month.
I had a similar experience with tech when I bought a magazine subscription recently. The fee was a hefty $80 which I paid with a check. When two months passed and the check hadn’t cleared, I emailed the company. No one replied but the magazines kept coming. Finally, I wrote to the editor. His explanation was, “We don’t get checks, normally. I guess it got lost.”
The exchange gave me two pieces of information. First, I’d never buy stock in this company. Second, when my “subscription” runs out next year, not being a fool, I plan to renew with a check.
AARP makes an effort to keep seniors aware of technology’s benefits. This month their bulletin contains a section called, “Digital Financial Tools,” by Kim Porter. (pgs. 22-24, AARP Bulletin, March 20, 22.) The mind boggles at the opportunities she lays out. But as a person who’s never used an ATM, it’s unlikely I’ll use them either. I update my accounts as AARP advises because techies like to make changes. I hate changes, particularly if it means I need a new password to see my bank balance.
Sometimes a change requires I read through a set of instructions. I hate doing that, too. Most of the time the upgrades are of little benefit to me. For example, some Microsoft fool redesigned my email section so that the “save” button sits atop the “send” button. I’m forever shooting off an email before it’s time. My friends must be confused when they receive them, as well.
Financial transactions I never leave to bits and bytes. To deposit a check, I address an envelope to my bank and put a stamp on it. The price of a stamp has gone up, but that’s nothing compared to the cost of maintaining a computer system, paying for apps, and always needing to upgrade something. And there’s the benefit of privacy through the mail. What Google doesn’t know is fine by me.
“Using so much pager is bad for the planet,” you might be thinking. Well, that’s a myth that needs to be debunked. Paper is more environmentally friendly than electronics. Besides, our grid is vulnerable to hackers, homegrown saboteurs, and commercial eves droppers, as I’ve suggested.
I share my digital phobia with other elderly folks if AARP’s poll is correct. Only 3 in 10 older people are motivated to use technology… (“Helping you Stay Tech Savvy,” by Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Bulletin, March 20, 2022, pg. 38.) Having a reluctance to learn isn’t the problem. But two out of five seniors agree with me—the system is too complex to accomplish simple tasks. In addition, the cost of the setup and the ongoing upgrades is a deterrent. (Ibid, pg. 30.)
Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with technology. For research, computers are a marvel. To buy an ice cream cone? Not so much.